White House and California Still Discussing Emission Rules, Incredibly

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
white house and california still discussing emission rules incredibly

Considering that the Trump administration’s Safer and Affordable Fuel Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles proposal specifically calls for the revocation of California’s power to set its own emissions rules, it’s miraculous that the Golden State is still willing to discuss the issue. But here we are.

Administration officials and members of the California Air Resources Board (CARB) emerged from a meeting on Wednesday, saying they were working toward resolving their differences over vehicle emissions, interested in establishing a single national standard, and — get this — would be happy to meet again.

CARB has proposed maintaining strict Obama-era rules that call for rising fuel efficiency requirements annually through 2025, while SAFE seeks to freeze national vehicle emissions standards at 2020 levels through 2026. The pair are absolutely opposed on the issue. However, according to Reuters, California’s air chief, Mary Nichols, said she could see a potential window to make a deal this fall.

While that sounds implausible if the current administration is successful in revoking California’s ability to set its own standards, the state has already set itself up for a legal battle. In May, Seventeen states (led by California) announced a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency. The suit alleges that the EPA’s decision to roll back Obama-era standards was conducted in an arbitrary and capricious manner.

As the largest U.S. auto market in the United States, the region also has some bargaining might behind it. If the federal government fails to stop California from self-regulating, it would severely complicate things for the automotive industry. Automakers want looser emissions standards because it’s cheaper for them to adhere to and should better serve existing consumer trends, but they don’t want them at the expense of varied regulatory hurdles. For carmakers, almost any national standard would be better than having to treat one third of the market differently.

California doesn’t appear to have changed its tune and remains set on tightening state vehicle emissions rules after 2020. But the mere fact that it’s issuing joint statements with the current administration and is open to further discussions seems to indicate potential wiggle room coming from one or even both parties. Perhaps we’ll see how that manifests, as Nichols suggested, in the fall.

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  • Incautious Incautious on Aug 31, 2018

    Its about time the tail stops wagging the dog. In the 60's and 70's yes it was needed, but the brown haze that enveloped LA is long gone. To give an example how extreme the snowflakes in California are, just look at the dead vegetation .Dead brush and 120 Million dead trees which fuel the huge wildfires and yet the amount of red tape to go out and clear this can be staggering.

    • See 2 previous
    • SPPPP SPPPP on Sep 05, 2018

      Yankee, your math isn't working out too well there. Based on FHA statistics that I looked up, there are roughly 4 times as many registered vehicles in the US today as there were in 1960. They seem to drive a little less than 4 times as many miles (probably because more families have a second or third car these days, which gets relatively less use). So if the cars are 98% cleaner, meaning they put out 1/50 of the pollution, but they are driving 4x more, then the total pollution should be 4/50 of what it was in 1960. Or, just 8% of what it was. The total pollution put out by the national vehicle fleet is probably still decreasing as older cars and trucks come off the road, though the rate of improvement would of course slow if the rate of toughening standards slows. Anyway, to say the "sheer volume increase ... has negated the effect" seems a little misleading if 92% of the effect is still ... in effect.

  • Whittaker Whittaker on Aug 31, 2018

    "We need cleaner cars!" California shouts as their mismanaged and burning forests spew particulates, toxins and (gasp) CO2.

    • See 2 previous
    • HotPotato HotPotato on Sep 04, 2018

      Australia is all-in on coal, global warming denialism, and damn-the-consequences resource extraction. Like California, they've also been subject to raging wildfires. I fail to see your point.

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